CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
Incredibly, this is the sixth horror film from Blumhouse Productions to get a UK cinema release this year (the seventh if you count the silly psychothriller The Boy Next Door). Even more incredibly, this has not been a case of quantity over quality: while the found-footage ones have been predictably tiresome (and there's another one coming up in a few weeks with M Night Shyamalan's The Visit) the "normal" movies have generally been pretty good. I liked The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Insidious: Chapter 3, and I didn't even hate Unfriended as much I'd expected. And they're just the ones for 2015 - go back just a few years and you've got surprising, interesting films like The Lords Of Salem, Dark Skies and The Green Inferno.
The track record of "actually not bad at all" continues with the sequel to one of 2013's best genre items and one of my favourites of that year's FrightFest: Sinister, which bizarrely seemed to earn as many plaudits for Ethan Hawke's legendary choices of knitwear as it did for actually being a terrifically scary horror film. Since that film ended with the family being killed at the behest of the ghoul Bughuul, Sinister 2, the action switches to James Ransome as Ex-Deputy So & So (that's the character's name in the end credits), now working as a private investigator and tracking the demonic chain. The trail takes him to an abandoned church next to a young mother (Shannyn Sossaman) and her two sons fleeing her violent millionaire husband. But Bughuul's troupe of ghost children is once more working to persuade the sons to commit murder and capture it on home cine film....
As modern horrors go, Sinister 2 is perfectly okay. It might not be doing anything hugely original, but it's still performing its familiar routine very effectively. The film is agreeably creepy in the sequences where Ransome is creeping round the abandoned church or the appearances of the spectral children, there are plenty of well-timed Boo! moments and, perhaps perversely, the murder scenes shot on grainy cine stock look a lot more unpleasant than they would on clean HD digital. This is hardly groundbreaking stuff, but like a lot of these post-Insidious films it's hit upon a workable formula which made me jump at all the right moments even though I know that technique of jump shocks and loud orchestral stingers is probably getting a little wearing now.
Against that, the figure of Bughuul himself (itself?) is seen too clearly and generally isn't as well used as he was in the first film, so he's a less frightening presence. The film also does something which I've never been happy with in movies (or indeed in real life), which is having children swearing, including the single use of "very strong language" as noted by the BBFC. Sinister 2 is hardly essential, but for fans of what's been dubbed the "quiet quiet quiet BANG" school of Friday night multiplex horror it more than does the job.